Metformin has been used for over 40 years and is the most frequently prescribed medication for type 2 diabetes. Metformin is a first-line medication prescribed to help patients control their blood sugars. The American Diabetes Association states that type 2 diabetes treatment should begin with metformin and lifestyle interventions. When used in conjunction with a proper diet and exercise program or with other medications patients can see positive benefits. Controlling high blood sugar can prevent kidney damage, blindness, nerve problems, amputations, and can decrease the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
In a landmark study called United Kingdom Prospective Diabetes Study (UKPDS) people treated with metformin had risk reductions of 32% for any diabetes-related problem, 42% for diabetes-related death, and 36% for death from any cause. These results were significantly better than the control group and other treatments did not perform as well as metformin. Here is a summary of important information about metformin.
Brand Name: Glucophage, Glucophage XR, Glumetza, Fortamet, Riomet
Generic Name: metformin hydrochloride
Medication Class: Biguanides
Similar Drugs: None. Metformin’s mechanism of action is different from other classes of diabetes medications.
Manufactured by: Bristol-Myers Squibb, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Mylan Laboratories, Goldline Pharmaceuticals
FDA Approval Date: December 1994
What is metformin and how does it work?
In the United States, approximately 5% of the people diagnosed with diabetes have type 1 diabetes (about 1 million) and approximately 90-95% has type 2 diabetes. Metformin is an oral medication that lowers blood glucose (sugar) and is effective in treating type 2 diabetes. Insulin is an important hormone produced by the pancreas and it controls glucose levels in the blood. Insulin reduces the amount of glucose made by the liver and increases the uptake of glucose by tissues. Metformin increases the sensitivity of liver, muscle, and fat tissues to the effects of insulin, therefore increasing glucose uptake and lowering blood sugar levels. When blood glucose is not regulated properly in the blood, serious medical problems such as kidney damage, amputations, and blindness can occur. The main goal of treating diabetes is to lower blood sugar.